With help from Zack Colman
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— Less than a week from Election Day, support for renewable energy is up to nearly 80 percent among registered voters, and more than half of voters support decreasing the United States’ use of fossil fuels, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
— That’s good news if you’re Joe Biden, who environmental advocates are urging to keep aggressively campaigning on climate change during the final week of the campaign.
— Green groups called on a judge to overturn a land use plan in Colorado, arguing it was illegally approved under William Perry Pendley.
WELCOME TO WEDNESDAY! I’m your host, Kelsey Tamborrino. Cheniere’s Khary Cauthen gets the win for correctly naming the four states that end with the letter “O”: Ohio, New Mexico, Idaho and Colorado. For today: How many U.S. states border an ocean? Send your tips, energy gossip and comments to [email protected].
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FROM THE TOPLINES: Fresh off a final presidential debate that saw President Donald Trump accuse Joe Biden of seeking to abolish oil, a new poll shows most registered voters say they support increasing the United States’ use of renewables like solar and wind, according to the survey from POLITICO and Morning Consult.
Seventy-nine percent of voters — including 89 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans — either strongly or somewhat support increasing the use of renewables. Just 5 percent of voters said they strongly oppose expanding U.S. renewables, while 7 percent said they would somewhat oppose. Meanwhile, 60 percent of voters said they’d support shrinking the use of fossil fuels like oil.
Asked about transitioning the U.S. from using fossil fuels to renewable energy, 55 percent of Republicans said they support the policy, alongside 83 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents. Across the country, 74 percent of voters from urban communities, 70 percent of suburban voters and 61 percent of rural voters said they support moving to renewables.
And, when given a forced choice, 50 percent of respondents said they believe the U.S. should offer incentives for the use of renewables over fossil fuels to create cleaner energy and combat pollution and climate change, while 37 percent said the U.S. should continue to extract fossil fuels to make the country less energy-dependent on other countries. Sixty-one percent of Republicans said the U.S. should continue to extract fossil fuels, while 69 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents said they support promoting renewable energy.
But when it comes to legislating, 34 percent of respondents said passing a bill to address climate change was a “top priority,” and 30 percent said it was a lower priority, while still important. Seventeen percent of respondents said it was “not too important” of a priority while 11 percent said it should not be done at all. Breaking it down by party, 54 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents called a climate bill a top priority, while 16 percent of Republicans said the same. (The poll of 1,990 registered voters was conducted between Oct. 23-25, with a margin of error of plus/minus 2 percentage points.)
BIDEN’S CLOSING CLIMATE PITCH: Environmental advocates are pushing Biden to keep up his climate change message in the final days before Election Day, saying the $2 trillion plan to boost clean energy and slash greenhouse gases will help turn out some of the crucial voting blocs that will decide who wins the race, Pro’s Anthony Adragna reports this morning. Despite Trump’s focus on oil and fracking, environmental advocates argue that taking the offensive on climate action is an electoral winner.
“The politics of climate have changed,” Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020, told POLITICO. “It is now a tier one issue that candidates up and down the ballot must address. It really is this new moment where climate has taken center stage in a very difficult year for it to do so.”
Climate activists think Trump is ignoring voters’ desire to take aggressive action on the problem as communities have faced worsening climate-fueled disasters like massive wildfires in the West, severe storms in the Midwest and a busy hurricane season that’s repeatedly pummeled the Gulf Coast. “I think [the Trump campaign is] misreading the moment. I think people’s lived experience is quite different than it used to be around climate change,” said Pete Maysmith, senior vice president of campaigns with the League of Conservation Voters.
SPLIT COURT WON’T FREEZE METHANE REPEAL: A divided panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said it will not block EPA’s rescission of methane pollution rules for the oil and gas industry, Pro’s Alex Guillén reports. The decision effectively lifts regulatory constraints on the sector ahead of a court case over the legality of the agency’s move.
Recall: EPA last month published a rule repealing limits for oil and gas producers on methane. The D.C. Circuit briefly stayed the rule last month to consider whether to block it longer-term while court fights play out. Two judges on Tuesday voted to dissolve that temporary block and declined to stay the rescission rule.
GREENS SET OUT ON NEXT PENDLEY LAWSUIT: In the first separate lawsuit since a federal judge invalidated three resource management plans in Montana, green groups are asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to invalidate a 1.7 million-acre resource management plan they say expands fossil fuel development in southwestern Colorado. That plan should be overturned because it was approved during William Perry Pendley’s unlawful tenure as the de facto head of the Bureau of Land Management, they contend.
Earlier this month, a judge struck down three land use plans in Montana because they were put in place under Pendley, who he previously ruled had served unlawfully as acting BLM chief for more than 400 days. That same filing denied a request from conservation groups to join the lawsuit, but opened the door for them to file separate suits in the appropriate federal district court.
Tuesday’s filing amends the environmental groups’ previous lawsuit from August challenging the resource plan for the Uncompahgre Field Office in Colorado to do just that. “This is the first step in scrubbing the stain of Pendley’s corrupt, unlawful legacy from our public lands,” said Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit.
BLM spokesperson Derrick Henry responded in a statement the groups are “trying to impose their radical environmental agenda on the hard-working people of Colorado, negatively impacting recreation access, conservation and energy development.”
REPORT: TRUMP WEIGHS FRACKING ORDER: Trump is considering issuing an executive order to mandate an economic analysis of fracking, senior administration officials told The Wall Street Journal. “The proposed order would ask government agencies to perform an analysis of fracking’s impact on the economy and trade and the consequences if the oil-and-gas extraction technique was banned,” the WSJ reports. “It also would order those agencies to evaluate what more they can do to expand its use, possibly through land management or support of developing technology, [the officials] said.”
BLM APPROVES RECORD OF DECISION ON WILLOW PLAN: The Trump administration released its record of decision this week for ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil and gas project in the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, allowing for the construction of three drill sites and processing and support facilities. BLM deferred on a decision on two more drill sites and additional road and pipeline segments. The project would allow the production of up to 160,000 barrels of oil per day over 30 years.
Greens argue it would threaten wildlife, including polar bears and caribou. “Despite the urgent need to ramp down our carbon emissions, as the Arctic continues to melt, the Bureau of Land Management just continues its drumbeat to drill for fossil fuels,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife, in a statement.
A daily look at what POLITICO Energy reporters are watching this cycle. Today, Pro’s Anthony Adragna on how some Democrats are looking to blunt attacks on their positions in energy country.
GOING THE DISTANCE: Democrats battling it out in some redder areas of the country are running ads this season distancing themselves from ideas popular among the more progressive flank of the caucus, such as banning fracking or the Green New Deal. It’s a message that became all the more important for these energy moderates to get out after last week’s presidential debate when Biden said he wants to transition the country to renewables from fossil fuels.
In New Mexico, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is running ads featuring her standing at an oil rig, saying she “stood up to members of my own party who want to ban fracking.” Rep. Kendra Horn (Okla.) makes a similar push in one of her ads, saying she also “stood up” to oppose a fracking ban.
Independent Alaska Senate candidate Al Gross declared in a hunting-themed ad that Sen. Dan Sullivan “says I’m a liberal. Well, I don’t support the Green New Deal or Medicare for All.” Barbara Bollier, seeking an open Senate seat in Kansas against Rep. Roger Marshall, made a similar declaration in one of her ads. And an endorsement for Alyse Galvin, who’s running against Rep. Don Young in Alaska, notes her husband works in the oil industry: “Don’t believe anyone who says she’s a liberal,” says 89-year-old Alaskan Phil Morrow.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped the attack ads. Outside groups, in particular, have sought to tie many Democratic candidates to figures like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who wrote the Green New Deal. The Congressional Leadership Fund attacked Torres Small as too liberal on green issues, citing her 97 percent score from the League of Conservation Voters. The group also ran an ad saying Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio was “making things worse” for wildfires due to his support for the Green New Deal. And Republican Beth Van Duyne, seeking an open Texas seat against Democrat Candace Valenzuela, warned her opponent “might take your job.”
EMISSIONS PEAK? Energy-related emissions are headed for a permanent decline after 2019, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The research group found that while emissions will likely rebound a bit following a 10 percent drop this year related to the pandemic-caused recession, they’ll never again surpass 2019 levels, with annual falls of 0.7 percent expected from 2027 through 2050. The world will hit peak oil demand by 2035 with wind and solar accounting for 56 percent of power generation by 2050, BNEF said.
But the rate of emissions decline still is not happening fast enough to avoid global temperatures from crossing a dangerous tipping point. Energy-related emissions will still drive global temperatures to 3.3 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2100, BNEF said.
WISHING THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT A HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Guests at the Paris agreement’s fifth birthday party in December will be required to bring new, “bold” commitments to the global climate pact, Pro’s Karl Mathiesen and Kalina Oroschakoff report. “There will be no space for general statements,” said a letter obtained by POLITICO, which was sent last week to all heads of state and government from the leaders of the U.K., France, Chile, Italy and the U.N. — the co-hosts of the Climate Ambition Summit 2020. To book a speaking slot at the Dec. 12 online event, leaders will have to set new goals for emissions cuts this decade, a date to reach net-zero emissions, and new finance for developing countries or adapting to climate impacts.
— “As election nears, Trump makes a final push against climate science,” via The New York Times.
— “U.S. offshore energy producers brace for Hurricane Zeta impact,” via Reuters.
— “Rhode Island set to double down on offshore wind power,” via Providence Journal.
— “EPA cancels LGBTQ pride and resilience event due to Trump crackdown,” via HuffPost.
— “Coal complaints rule seen as last-ditch move to help industry,” via Bloomberg Law.
— “‘Sleeping giant’ Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find,” via The Guardian.
THAT’S ALL FOR ME!